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In the last book of the Bible is one of the most astounding prophecies of all time. It says a world leader will arise in the "last days" who will try to get everyone on earth to accept a "mark" in their hand or in their forehead, without which they will not be able to buy or sell anything. (Revelation 13:16-17) And through this mark he will be able to control the whole world.

This prophecy was made nearly 2,000 years ago, before the days of paper currency, cheques, credit cards, or microchips. It was unthinkable that any world leader could control the entire population of the world to that extent; and as the world's population has grown many times over since then, it has sounded progressively more impossible over the years. Until now.

"We Have the Technology..."

Computer technology now makes it possible for people to do their shopping with a plastic card that instantly subtracts funds from their bank accounts and deposits them into the accounts of the people they buy from. A tiny microchip the size of a grain of rice on these "smart cards" can record every transaction, as well as holding a huge file of information on the person making the transaction including medical history, police record, address, birthdate, etc.

The technology is also available to implant the microchip under the skin on each person's hand, thus eliminating the possibility that the card could be lost or stolen. The arguments in favour of implementing such technology are overwhelming. It would do everything from wiping out the drug trade (which always deals in cash) to simplifying banking.

But the proponents of microchip implants keep running into opposition from people who are aware of the prophecy referred to at the start of this article. Opposition is highest in those countries where interest in Bible prophecy is highest, most notably in the United States.

The context of the prophecy is that an alliance of nations will eventually rule the world; and one world leader will gain control of that body. This leader will have widespread support, and his policies will result in peace and prosperity for much of the world. But then he will elevate himself to the position of a god, and he will begin a massive slaughter of anyone who refuses to worship him. More people will be killed in this purge than at any previous time in earth's history. (Matthew 24:21-22)

No wonder that people who have studied this prophecy are suspicious of the approaching cashless economy!

But whether they are suspicious or not, the mark will come, and so will the world leader. It has been foretold, and the best that we can do is to stall its implementation. But we have an even more surprising prediction to make, and that is that a great many of the very people who are warning the world about this dictator will one day accept the mark themselves. We will get to this later. But first...

Although there are minor disagreements about endtime prophecies, there is a great deal of agreement with regard to the Mark. After all, it's practically happening in front of our eyes. Banks persistently push people into using cards, whether lobbying for ID cards, offering incentives to switch to plastic, or supporting the latest card fad (e.g. 'Fly Buys'). They have the technology to bring in the Mark right now, but so far they have not been able to get the general public to accept it.

Outsmarting God...

But we are most concerned about are the knee-jerk reactions that so many people have to this and related prophecies.

Through Bullets...

Prophecies are not given so that the initiated can use them to outsmart God. The U.S. militia movement (which has been linked with the Oklahoma City bombing and the Waco, Texas, Branch Davidian cult) has sprung from attempts by Americans to arm themselves against the coming "Anti-Christ" (another name for the coming world leader). They have made the typical American blunder of thinking that weapons can buy them peace and security. Doomsday cults of all sorts have been given a bad name because of assumptions by some that they can fight violence with violence. No amount of weaponry will stop the Antichrist.

Through Bunkers...

But not all who believe a world dictator is coming have turned to violence. Many more have turned to refuges. They stockpile supplies, buy land in the wilderness, learn survival techniques, plan escape routes, build fallout shelters, and just generally dig in, with the aim of toughing it out during the persecution of people who do not take the Mark or in some other way conform with the coming one-world government. Obviously this is much safer than the militaristic approach. But it still misses the point of what the Revelation passage is trying to tell us. In itself this approach is primarily defensive, and as such is selfish. It places one's hope in material provision (the more the better) rather than in a loving God.

And Through Billy Graham

On the other extreme is the ask-Jesus-into-your-heart approach. These people do nothing practical. They get ready to die; but they do little or nothing about changing their present lifestyle. You don't need Bible prophecy to tell you that it is important to get right with God before you die. But if the prophecies are going to be fulfilled in the near future, then there must be something practical that we should be doing to prepare for them now.

Listen to the Lamb!

The answer lies in a broader understanding of prophecy. The full name of the last book of the Bible is The Revelation of Jesus Christ. And the opening verses tell us that it is a revelation given specifically to the servants of Jesus Christ. If you are not ready to serve (i.e. obey) Jesus, you will never find solutions to problems predicted in the Revelation.

The Revelation features a Lamb and a Beast. The Beast (the final world dictator) appears to have total power over the inhabitants of the earth; but the Lamb (Jesus) conquers the Beast in the end. Unless people are motivated to study and obey the teachings of the Lamb, they will never be able to escape the mark of the Beast. The passage about the mark goes on to say that it is somehow related to the "name of the Beast" or the number of his name, which is 666.

Computer bar codes (like the one on page 56) include three identical pairs of lines at the left, right and centre of the lines representing the number of the product you are buying. These three pairs of lines are slightly longer than the others, and in the most widely used coding system, they are the two lines that represent the number six.

Three sixes keep popping up at each stage of the move toward a cashless society. Bankcard featured three sixes inside of each other (one red, one orange, and one yellow) which supposedly represented the letter 'b'. The Keycard turned the six on its side and said it was a key. (See Revelation 13:16-18)

Wiser than Solomon?

We turned to the Bible to unravel the mystery of the number. Looking for the number 666 elsewhere in the Bible, we found it in 1 Kings 10:14 where it says the amount of gold that came to King Solomon in one year was 666 talents (about 25 tons!).

The Lamb (Jesus) referred to the events of this same chapter twice in his teachings: once when he said his teachings were greater than Solomon's wisdom, and yet the Queen of Sheba came to hear Solomon's wisdom, giving him all this gold in appreciation (Matthew 12:42); and once when he said that all of Solomon's wealth could not compare with what God could provide for those who would stop working for money and start working for God (Matthew 6:24-30). Jesus obviously expected people to listen to him in preference to Solomon.

The Prostitute and the Bride

Two other characters in The Revelation are a Prostitute, called Babylon (Revelation 17:1-5) and a Bride, called Jerusalem (Revelation 21:1-10). In the Gospels Jesus called this Bride the "kingdom from heaven". And he taught that God would provide the basic needs of anyone whose first goal in life was to promote this kingdom. (Matthew 6:31-33) Babylon as such is not mentioned in the gospels. Instead, Jesus says we have a choice between working for God or working for money. (Matthew 6:24) He says to give God what belongs to God and give Caesar what belongs to Caesar (Matthew 22:19-21), and suggests that money is all that Caesar has been able to create, whereas real wealth comes from his Father. He says that God's children owe the Caesars of the world nothing. (Matthew 17:24-26 KJV)

The greatest achievement of the Babylonian Empire was the invention of money. Throughout the centuries the spirit of Babylon has developed new ways to make it easier for the world's Solomons to move their tons of gold around. The electronic Mark spoken of in The Revelation is just the consummation of it all.

So what do we do?

Our response to the warnings of the Revelation are quite simple. We start obeying Jesus by learning to live by faith right now, working for God rather than working for money. St. John said, "You have heard that the Antichrist will come, but even now there are many antichrists." (1 John 2:18) And just as we have heard that the Mark will come, even now there are many 'marks'. (What does Germany call its money?)

If we continue to put our faith in money, and to work for it, we play right into the hands of the Antichrist. We can say we will refuse to take the final mark when it comes, but we will almost certainly use the same excuses for taking it then as we use for disobeying everything else that Jesus said about money now.

Revelation 7:3-8 says that God's people also have a mark, and Jesus refers to this in John 6:27, when he says, "Do not work for the food that perishes." Jesus says our refusal to worry about material needs will set us apart from the rest of the world (Matthew 6:31-33) But the churches say, "We would starve if we took that literally."

Jesus says, "Sell what you own and give to the poor," (Luke 12:33) and they say, "He will forgive us if we don't follow that rule." Jesus says, "If you don't forsake everything that you own, you cannot be one of my followers," (Luke 14:33) and they say, "Times have changed. It won't work in today's world." Jesus says, "Teach others to obey all that I have said," (Matthew 28:19-20) and they say, "Nobody else is doing it, so why should we?"

So when he says, "Whoever receives the mark will feel the full strength of God's wrath," (Revelation 14:9-11) those who boast now that they will never take it will say, "We got away with disobeying everything else Jesus said. Why not ignore this one too."

In Conclusion

To sum it up, there is going to be a world government, and it is going to bring in a universal mark that will greatly improve the efficiency of banking, law enforcement, immigration, and related fields. Eventually the government will turn nasty and will execute literally millions of people. But that could be a long way down the track. In the meantime this new government and the new economic system it institutes is going to be a massive improvement on anything we have at the moment. No matter what anyone does to protest against the Mark, it will still come. Practically everyone will accept it, and you will almost certainly be one of those who does.

The only exceptions will be those who have taken the teachings of Jesus very seriously. If you are not more interested in knowing what Jesus taught than the Queen of Sheba was in knowing the wisdom of Solomon (Remember, she paid tons of gold to hear what he had to say.) then forget about it. You are pretty well destined to take the mark anyway, and you may as well eat, drink, and be merry until the end comes.

Of course if you are interested in following the teachings of Jesus, you can find them in the first four books of the New Testament (The Gospel According to Matthew, The Gospel According to Mark, The Gospel According to Luke, and The Gospel According to John). Study them (and obey them) like your eternal life depends on it. Because it does.

(See also God or Money, and A Unique Teaching.)

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